MH370 hunt finds two 19th-century shipwrecks


The unsuccessful hunt for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has instead found two 19th-century shipwrecks, the Western Australia Museum has said.

The shipwrecks were discovered in 2015 some 2,300 kilometres off the Australian coast during the initial search for the missing Boeing 777 flight, which vanished with 239 passengers and crew on board on March 8, 2014 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The plane is presumed to have crashed into the sea. In 2017, Malaysia, China and Australia called off their search – the largest in aviation history – after spending 150 million dollars.

The museum said the wrecks were identified as 19th-century merchant sailing vessels: one wooden and one iron, both carrying coal.

“Both wrecks were found at depths between 3,700 and 3,900 metres, roughly 36 km apart,” Ross Anderson, the museum’s maritime archaeology curator, said in a statement on Thursday evening.

Both ships were likely to have carried crews of between 15 and 30 men.

The wooden sailing ship of 225- to 800-ton range appeared to have totally degraded, leaving only the remains of the vessel’s coal cargo and some metal objects, he said.

The sinking of the ship was likely caused by an explosion, which was common with coal cargoes, Anderson said.

The second wreck – an iron sailing ship with at least two decks, and between 1,000 and 1,500 tons – was more intact, lying upright on the seabed with most of the rails and structure still visible.

Museum researchers could not identify the ships conclusively, but they were able to narrow the possibilities to a few ships from the late 1800s – all traveling from Britain to somewhere in the East. 

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